Plowboys Chicken

Plowboys Chicken

I had heard a lot of good reviews of Plowboys Yardbird Rub and finally picked some up this summer only to completely forget about it in the cupboard until last weekend. Bad Dave.

2 roasting chickens
1 tablespoon Plowboys Yardbird Rub (or your favorite rub) per pound of chicken

Clean and rinse the chickens, then pat them dry. Butterfly (a.k.a. spatchcock) the birds by setting the bird in front of you, breast side down, and cutting up through the backbone with either a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife.

Now spread the bird open like a book and locate the keel bone that sits between the breasts. Nick it with a knife to get it to open up, but don’t cut all the way through. Flip the bird over and press down on the center of the bird until it lies pretty flat.

Rub both sides of the birds with the rub, working it under the skin a bit. Set the birds skin side up on a pan (I use a large jellyroll pan) and put them in the fridge, uncovered, for at least an hour. This not only lets the rub do its flavorful thing, but also helps dry out the skin a bit so it stays crispy.

Set your grill up for a raised direct cook at medium-high (400°F) heat. I used an extender to move the cooking grate up higher in the Big Green Egg’s dome. This way the chicken is getting cooked with a nice, large, even amount of heat on both sides and I still get the smoky flavor from the chicken fat dripping on the coals.

Plowboys Chicken

When your grill is up to temp, arrange the chickens on the grate skin side up. Close the lid and let them cook for 20 minutes. Flip and cook skin-side down for 20 minutes. Flip again and cook skin-side up until the chicken is done – 180°F internal in the thickest part of the thigh or until the leg joint moves easily and the juices run clear.

Remove chicken from grill and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Plowboys Yardbird Rub

Overall Verdict: ★★★★½
Plowboys Yardbird rub is an award-winning rub developed for competing at professional barbecue events. It is a savory, slightly parka-heavy rub that hits all the right notes – enhancing the flavor with a bit of sweetness and heat and adding ruddy hue to the meat without overwhelming the meat itself.

I enjoyed this rub on the chickens and, since “Created for Chicken but Made for Pork” is their tag line, I can’t wait to try it on ribs.

The Nutrition:
3 ounces of chicken meat is only about 100 calories and 3 or 4 Weight Watchers points.

One year ago – Beef Short Ribs
Two years ago – Siberian Ribs

Grilling Gifts

The older I get, the more I realize that gifting stuff just to be gifting stuff doesn’t buy anyone anything. You just end up with more stuff. That, my friends, is not a good thing.

So this is a guide to useful stuff – books, gear, foods, and websites that I’ve really enjoyed and that have helped make grilling more enjoyable.

Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook’s Manifesto by Michael Ruhlman – not so much recipes, but tools and techniques that have really improved my cooking.

High-Que Luxury Stainless Cooking Grid for Large Big Green Egg – this baby is a massive steak-searing machine. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved using this grate to make restaurant-quality steaks at home.

Charred & Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang and Peter Kaminsky – forget everything you ever learned about grilling meat. This book shows you how to break the rules to build more flavor into your food.

Maverick ET732 Wireless Thermometer – this remote thermometer saved my Thanksgiving bird from being way overcooked and that makes it a worthwhile tool to have.

Sweet chili sauce – I’ve used this sweet & spicy sauce as a glaze, dipping sauce and as a base for a barbecue sauce. Mae Ploy is good and ubiquitous, but The Ginger People’s Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce rocks if you can find it.

Real hoisin sauce – the kind made from plums gives you a great blend of sweet, salty and aromatic flavors.  Nice as a base for barbecue sauces. This brand is also gluten free.

Allegro Marinade use much like you would soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to give dishes a savory umami base. Also great straight up as a marinade.

Raw sugar – this minimally processed cane sugar adds not just sweetness, but an almost floral flavor. Sold as Sugar in the Raw, demerara sugar, or turbinado sugar.

Sea salt – I like to think of it as salt with flavor. I buy the coarse-ground sea salt in bulk and run it through a salt grinder (either by itself or with some added herbs and spices) to really kick up the taste of food.

Food52 Genius Recipes – this site is full of really insightful recipes. If you’re looking to make the best fill-in-the-blank whatever,  this is the place to start.

Weight Watchers – I am not a joiner and I sure don’t go to meetings, but an online subscription gives me a lot of tools to help me improve my lifestyle.

Amazing Ribs – Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn is a self-proclaimed Barbecue Whisperer and Hedonism Evangelist. His site is a one-stop-shop for barbecue tips, recipes, and techniques.

Happy Holidays to you all!

The Thermometer That Saved Thanksgiving

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

All of my family was able to make to our house. We had 11 people, a 16-pound bird, all the trimmings, and much to be thankful for.

I didn’t do anything fancy with the bird this year. Two days out I mixed my Poultry Rub with 1/2 olive oil and let that steep overnight. The next day I removed the giblets, slathered the bird inside and out (and under the skin a bit) with the wet rub, sealed it in a zip-top bag, and stashed it in the fridge until 2 hours before it was time to put it on the grill.

Two hours before my (alleged) 4-hour cook, I removed the bird from the bag, set it on a rack set in a disposable roasting pan, and moved it back into the fridge to air dry a bit.

I set up the Big Green Egg for an indirect cook at 350°F using an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat. When the grill was up to temp, I moved the roaster with the bird in it out to the Egg and set it directly on the plate setter.

I knew from experience that within 20 minutes of putting the bird on, I could have the vents adjusted just so and the BGE would tick right along at 350°F for hours unattended. That way I could work on finishing touches (and maybe catch a nap) and the bird would take care of itself.

But just to be on the safe side (after all, this is a once-a-year dinner for 11 people) I set up my new Maverick ET732 Wireless Thermometer to keep an eye the temperature.

This unit recently replaced my old trusty Maverick ET-73 when its LCD display finally died.

Like its predecessor, the ET-732 has two temperature probes that monitor the temperature of both the meat and the cooker and transmits them to a portable receiver. It also has two alarms that can be set independently – one goes off if the temperature of the cooker goes above or below a range that you set, and another goes off when the temperature of the meat reaches your preset internal temperature.

So when we were two hours into the cook and the remote started beeping, I knew something was wrong. I checked the display and it showed that the bird had already hit 150°F in the breast. I rushed out to the grill and did some wiggling of leg joints and probing with an instant-read Thermapen to confirm what the Maverick is telling me.

Sure enough, the bird was done a full two hours early. I moved the roaster off the Egg and took it inside. Fortunately my dear wife had picked up an extra disposable roasting pan, so we covered the bird with that and wrapped the whole works with some beach towels.

I kept the Egg running at 350°F.  By the time everyone had arrived the bird had cooled off a bit, so I just popped it back on the grill for 10 minutes to get it up to serving temp.

The Turkey Verdict: ★★★★★
Despite finishing early and being re-heated at the last minute, the bird was very juicy with crisper skin than I would have expected. The wet rub was outstanding – very herby and savory. A couple of people commented that it didn’t taste like what they’re used to turkey tasting like. Considering some of the cardboard birds we’ve eaten over the years, I’ll take that as a compliment.

The Nutrition:
Don’t worry about the turkey – four ounces of turkey breast meat is only 120 calories and 4 Weight Watchers Points. Worry about the stuffing and gravy instead ;).

The Maverick ET-732 Verdict: ★★★★★
This is a nice improvement over the previous model. The range has been extended to 300 feet and the probe wires are heat resistant to 700°F. My only nit to pick is that the temperature ranges are hard to set because the unit doesn’t have up and down buttons. Considering that this baby saved our bird, I am more than happy to overlook this small issue.

One year ago – A Little Turkey Dinner
Two years ago – Thanksgiving

Ruhlman’s Twenty – Grill-Roasted Prime Rib

I can’t tell you how much this book has changed the way I think about cooking.

I’m used to cook books that are nothing but recipes. Ruhlman’s Twenty has plenty of those, but they’re all wrapped around the 20 core cooking tools and techniques that Ruhlman has distilled from his years of being a chef and writing about food.

Before this book, to me an egg was just an ingredient. Now they are Technique #6, little oval kitchen workhorses – cooked gently they become a meal unto themselves, while egg whites leaven souffles by incorporating air, and egg yolks emulsify simple oil and acid into that amazing concoction we call mayonnaise.

Even the shallot (Technique #4) becomes a bit of a wonder in Ruhlman’s book. I always though of them as uppity onions, but mince them with some vinegar (Technique #5) and whirl them with some olive oil and you’ve got a quick vinaigrette (Technique #12) that works  wonders when paired with cold veggies and beats anything that comes in a bottle.

Of course, being a grillmeister and all, I was most interested in his Technique #18, Grill: The Flavor of Fire. Having recently secured a very nice rib roast, I  decided to try his grill/roast technique using a wet rub to season the roast.

Wet Rub
1 4-6 pound rib roast
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Allegro Marinade or Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika

Make the wet rub by putting the garlic, salt and peppercorns into a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the oil, vinegar, Allegro, rosemary, thyme and paprika and give them a whirl to combine.

You’ll need a flame-proof roasting pan (I use an old 9×13 baking pan) with a rack.  Put the roast on a cutting board with the deckle (fat cap) on top. Score the fat by making shallow diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern at about 1-inch intervals. Pour half of the wet rub over the roast and work it into the cuts. Turn the roast over and cover the bottom and sides of the roast with the remaining rub. Set aside and let rest while you set up the grill.

The heart of Ruhlman’s grill/roast technique is to sear the meat over a hot, direct fire, give it a rest, and then finish it over lower, even heat. The sear gets you that crispy, tasty crust. The resting time stops the heat from pushing too deeply into the meat, giving you an evenly-cooked roast with more lovely medium-well meat and less gray, over-cooked meat. It also lets you control when you serve the meat. Once the searing is done, you can finish it right away on the grill (or in the oven, if you must), or stash it in the fridge for up to a day before finishing it right before serving.

For the sear, set your grill up for a direct cook over high heat (500°F). Get the cooking grate is nice and hot and sear the roast for 90 seconds on each side. When the roast is browned all over, move it to the rack (fat side up) set in the roasting pan.

If you are finishing it later, move the roast to the fridge until it is cool and then wrap with plastic wrap. If you’re serving it right away, tent loosely with aluminum foil and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes while you get the grill down to the roasting temperature.

Close the lid on the grill and adjust the vents to reduce the heat to 300°F. On the Big Green Egg, I shut the vents almost all the way down and added an inverted (legs up) plate setter to diffuse the heat. You could also use a flame-proof pizza stone, sheet pan, or trivet to give you indirect heat.

When the grill is down to roasting temps, put the roaster loaded with the meat back onto the grill. Add about a cup of water to the roasting pan to keep the juices from burning. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes per pound, or until it hits 130°F internal.

Move the roast to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
I made this for my dear mother’s 82nd birthday dinner and everyone loved it. The roast had a nice, wide band of tender, rosy-red meat with a great crunchy char on it. Slicing the deckle let the bits of fat fry themselves into a kind of beefy bacon. Perfect.

As for Ruhlman’s Twenty, I find myself reaching for this more than any of my other cook books. I’m not always making recipes from the book, but I am always leveraging his techniques.

The Nutrition:
When you get to be 82, you get to quit counting calories.

One year ago – Scallop Gumbo
Two years ago – Tasty Licks Salmon

Luxury Stainless Cooking Grid

The fine folks over at High-Que cut me a sweet deal on their new Luxury Stainless Cooking Grid for Large Big Green Egg in exchange for my honest opinion. I was very excited when it showed up at my doorstep over the weekend.

First impression – this baby is huge! Just picking it up is a 2-handed operation. While it’s only 18 1/2-inches across, the same as my current grid, the individual rods are a heavy-duty 3/8-inch in diameter, making it whopping 3/4-inch thick. And at 14 pounds, this grid is almost 10 pounds heavier.

Second impression – look at how solid and shiny it is. This is one seriously well-made grid.  They tell me it’s made from 304 stainless steel, which is very strong and corrosion resistant. I’m no metallurgist, but it sure looks like it can take anything I can throw at it.

The grate also features a hinged access door, meaning you can add smoking wood or extra lump charcoal without removing the grid from the grill. This is a great feature when you’re doing longer cooks.

I figured the best way to put the grid to the test was to see how well it seared a tri-tip roast. At  2 1/2 pounds, the tri-tip is a big hunk o’ meat cut from the bottom of the sirloin that really lends itself to being cooked hot and fast like a steak.

I let the roast sit at room temperature while I got the Big Green Egg up to a roaring 700°F. When the BGE was up to temp I put in the High-Que grate and closed the lid.  Almost immediately the dome temperature dropped to 500°F. I know some of this was from having the lid open, but put a good share of the drop was also from adding the cold grate.

I let the BGE come back up to 700°F, about 15 minutes) and then let it set for another 15 minutes to make sure the grate was nice and hot.

How hot was it? When I put the roast on it squealed! Not the usually sizzle of meat on the grill, but a higher, almost metallic sound of all that heat pouring out of the grate and into the roast.

I let each side sear for a minute (tri-tips are typically thick enough that there are 3 sides), then cut the heat to 550°F by closing the draft vents and cooked it for another 3 minutes on each side until it was 130°F internal and had a lovely crust on the outside.

You’ll have to wait for the upcoming Tri-tip Steak Salad post for the full recipe, but the tri-tip ended up with a crisp, charred crust and a tasty medium-rare interior.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
There are a lot of reasons to like this grate, but the big reason for me is its thermal mass. Searing meat or veggies creates a nice brown crust via the Maillard reaction, and that creates a ton of flavor. This grid has the meat-searing mass to hold and deliver hold a lot of heat so you get some seriously deep sear marks without over-cooking the food.

Yes, High-Que grid is pricey, but considering that my first porcelain enameled steel grid didn’t even last a year before it cracked and rusted, and my second stainless grid is only 3 years old and has failed welds and is starting to corrode, I think the investment is well worth it.

Stuff I Like

Tiz that time of year when folks start looking for gifts for their favorite foodie. Because every cook has different tastes, and because your mileage may vary, this year I’m going to try to avoid making recommendations.

Instead, here are some products that I’ve enjoyed using this past year. I wholeheartedly give them the Food & Fire Seal of Approval (for what that’s worth ;)). If you think your grill guy/girl might appreciate some of them, go for it and enjoy the great food that (hopefully) may come your way in return!

Steel Grill Roaster from Williams-Sonoma – It’s a perforated stainless steel pan, so the food gets directly exposed to the flame, but it’s raised up a bit so it cooks more evenly. Great for roast veggies and shrimp.

Cholula Hot Sauce – There are now 4 flavors of Cholula: Original, Chili Garlic, Chili Lime, and Chipotle. I’ve been a big fan of their original sauce for years – not much heat or vinegar, but a solid chili taste that works great on almost any Mexican dish. The new sauces take that original flavor and add some very nice accents to it.

Bayou Classic Cast Iron Griddle – I’ve had this for a while, but really put it to work this year. I’ve made some excellent blackened steaks and sizzling fajitas on it.

Thermapen Splash-Proof Thermometer – The new version of my favorite  instant-read thermometer adds a splash-proof seal. It’s fast, accurate, and easy to read. I like it so much I now I have the new one in my grill table and old one in the kitchen.

High-Que Fire Grate Upgrade – I’ve been cooking with this new grate for the Big Green Egg for 6 months and it works as promised. The Egg comes up to temp faster and burns between 25°F and 50°F hotter than it did with the old grate. I’ve not had any problems with ash clogging the grate, even though I usually reuse the lump.

Emile Henry Flame-Top Cookware – I’ve been lucky enough to get to try out Emile Henry’s new line of flameproof ceramic that’s designed to go directly on a live flame. I’ve tried their tagine, Dutch oven, and pizza stone and they all cook like champs.

All-Clad d5 Stainless Pans – My dear wife gave me a nice set of new All-Clad pans almost a year ago. I’ve cooked the hell out of them since then, and continue to be very pleased with them. They heat evenly, respond quickly to temperature changes, and are easy to clean.

Wishing you all a happy and a healthy and a merry!

Shrimp & Chicken Fajitas

I had really hoped to make this dish on the Big Green Egg using a cast iron griddle, but the weather just wouldn’t cooperate. I ended up cooking it on the griddle (highly recommended) on the stove top (not so highly recommended).

It looks like there are a lot of moving pieces here, but if you are organized you can put this on the table in about an hour and a half.

The Chicken
4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce

Put the garlic cloves and salt in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the lime juice, pepper, cumin, chili powder, soy sauce, olive oil, and hot sauce and give everything a whirl until it is well-combined.

Pour half of the marinade over the chicken, toss to coat, and stash in the fridge for at least an hour, but not longer than 4 hours. Reserve the other half of the marinade in the fridge for later.

The Shrimp
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon achiote oil
1 tablespoon Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce

Pour the  oil and hot sauce over the shrimp and toss to coat. Stash in the fridge while you prep the veggies.

The Veggies
3 large bell peppers (assorted colors are pretty) cut into strips
1 medium onion, chopped
3 gloves garlic, crushed and chopped
3 scallions, roughly chopped

The veggies will pick up plenty of flavor from the griddle, so I didn’t season them at all.

The Cook
Think of the griddle as a flat wok – you want to get it hot and move the food on and off it quickly. So have all of your ingredients, and a large (pre-warmed if possible) serving platter arranged in front of you before you start.

Center the griddle over your largest/hottest burner on the stove (or across 2 burners if you have a large rectangular griddle) and heat over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.

Swirl a couple of glugs of peanut oil on the griddle and let heat until it starts to shimmer (about 2 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange it on the griddle.

Let the chicken sear for about 2 minutes and then flip it over and let it cook for another minute or so until done (I like using a set of tongs for this).

Remove the chicken to the platter and put the veggies on the griddle. Cook these until they soften and start to char a bit, about 5 minutes (or until your smoke alarm goes off like ours did). Pour just a couple of tablespoons of water on the griddle to de-glaze it and steam the veggies a bit. Use a spatula here to scrape up the brown bits and work them into the veggies.

Remove the veggies to the platter and add the shrimp to the griddle. Cook these just until they turn pink and start to curl (about a minute), flip and cook the other side for another minute.

Remove the shrimp to the platter and drizzle the whole thing with the reserved marinade. Serve with warm tortillas and guacamole.

Lean meat and tons of veggies, what’s not to love? Just watch how many glugs of oil you use and go light on the tortillas and guac. Makes 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings. 270 calories. 6 Weight Watchers points.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
An outstanding weeknight dish. The griddle gave everything a nice char and the Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce added a little heat with a lot of slightly sweet smokiness. Th achiote oil was subtle, but it added a richness that helped round out all the flavors.

While the griddle did its smoky/searing job, it was a little too much for the vent fan in the kitchen. Between the smoke and the splatter, this would have worked at lot better outside on the grill.

Best Freakin’ Posole Ever!

I usually make this hearty Mexican stew after Thanksgiving when I can use the turkey carcass for meat and stock. But since the nice folks at Cholula sent me some of their new Chili Garlic Hot Sauce to try out, I couldn’t think of a dish I’d rather put it in.

Since this recipe takes a little while to make, I doubled it up to make a great Sunday dinner plus leftovers for my lunches the rest of the week. It also freezes up really well.

2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs
8 ounces Mexican chorizo
4 cups chicken stock
2 (20-ounce) cans hominy (Juanita’s if you can get it), drained
2 (4-ounce) cans green chilies
1-2  jalapeños, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tablespoon medium chili powder
1 tablespoon Ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
1 -2 tablespoons Cholula Chili Garlic Hot Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, crumble the chorizo and brown it over medium-high heat. Drain off as much of the fat as your conscience tells you to. Add the bell peppers, chilies, jalapeños, garlic, and onions and cook until the onions are soft, about five minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Add the chicken stock, chili powder, cumin, and cilantro and bring to a simmer on the stove top for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the chicken thighs, nestling them into the sauce so they are mostly covered.

Put the lid on the Dutch oven and move it to the middle rack in the oven. Let cook for 2 hours, checking at the 1 hour make to make sure the stew isn’t drying out. Add more stock or water if needed.

Remove the Dutch oven to the stove top. Give the dish a stir – the thighs should just fall apart. Turn the stove burner up to medium-high and add the hominy. Let it come to a simmer and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Serve with corn chips, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkling of cojita cheese

Makes 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings. 446 calories. 11 Weight Watcher points, so not exactly a low-calorie dish, but you could easily bump up the veggies and the amount of broth.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
The title says it all – the chorizo, the fall-apart thighs, and the heat and complexity of the sauce made this a delicious stew. I may very well make this with turkey again, but I’ll never make it again without chorizo.

The Cholula Chili Garlic Hot Sauce was made for recipes like this. It added a lot of clean, rich garlic taste with some nice warmth. I don’t think it’s quite as hot as their original sauce, but I liked the combination of peppers and garlic.

Ceviche de Camaron con Cholula

The fine folks over at Cholula Hot Sauce were nice enough to send me a 4-pack of their sauces to try out. I’ve been a big fan of their original sauce for years. It doesn’t have much heat or vinegar, but it’s got a solid chili taste that works great on almost any Mexican dish.

There are now 3 new flavors of Cholula – Chili Garlic, Chili Lime, and Chipotle. Of the three, the Chili Lime caught my attention first. I thought it would be a great addition to my Shimp Ceviche recipe.

1 pound cooked medium (41-50) shrimp, shelled and deveined (get the freshest you can find)
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup cocktail sauce (Trader Joe’s in this case, but any sauce with some horseradish in it will work fine)
2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2-3 tablespoons Cholula chili Lime hot sauce
16 – 24 pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 avocado, sliced the long way

In a large, non-reactive bowl, combine the shrimp, salt, and lime juice. Let this sit for about 5 minutes. Add the onion, cilantro, cocktail sauce, jalapeños, oil, Worcestershire, horseradish, hot sauce, and olives. Mix well and let sit in the fridge for about an hour so the flavors all get to know each other.

Arrange the avocado strips into a little nest on a small plate or bowl. Mound the ceviche in the center of the strips.  Serve with lime wedges, more hot sauce, and tortilla chips or (strangely, but traditional) saltine crackers.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
This dish just screams sand and surf. I really liked the addition of the last little tomatoes from our garden. They are so perfectly ripe and intense that they are just little flavor bombs.

The Cholula Chili Lime Hot Sauce really shines here – the base chili flavor isn’t too hot (more flavor than fire) and the zip of the lime brings out the freshness and sweetness of the shrimp. I think it’d be great with almost any seafood.

Next time I’d use a different size shrimp. I’d either go large/jumbo so you could pluck the shrimp out with a fork and scoop the remaining sauce up with a chip, or use little cocktail shrimp so you could just scoop the the whole works up.

Sweet & Tangy Thighs with Peanut Noodles

Sometimes you need a little help. We had a friend visiting from out-of-town and I wanted to put together a nice meal on the Big Green Egg. We also had a lot of other things that we wanted to do, but was really feeling short on time.  Lucky for me, I hit these two two saviors while I was digging through our pantry.

SAN-J makes a lot of gluten-free sauces, but they are hard to find in our local grocery stores. Fortunately, I’d run into a bunch of them at an Asian market and grabbed a few to try.

Peanut Noodles
3/4 pound dried spaghetti (use corn or rice noodles to make it gluten-free)
1 (10-ounce) bottle SAN-J Gluten Free Thai Peanut Sauce
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips

Cook the pasta according to the direction on the package until al dente (if you are going to let this sit in the fridge, shorten the cooking time for a little firmer pasta). Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water.

Dump the pasta and veggies into a lidded container and pour about 2/3 cup of the peanut sauce over them.  Put the lid on and toss to combine. Store in the fridge until just before dinner, then remove and let warm up a bit before serving. Add more sauce and maybe a squirt of sriracha before serving if needed.

Sweet & Tangy Thighs
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 (10-ounce) bottle SAN-J Gluten Free Sweet & Tangy Glaze
4 flat, wooden skewers

Put the chicken in a zip-top bag and pour on enough of the glaze to cover them (about 2/3 cup). Toss to coat. Squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it, and put it in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours. Put the skewers in a pan of water to soak.

Set your grill up for a direct cook over high (450°F) heat.

Thread the thighs onto the skewers (about 3 on each). Grill chicken about 10 minutes per side or until the internal temp hits at least 180°F. I like my thighs a little more done, so I went another 10 minutes until the meat started to get a good crispy char on it and the internal temp was 200°F.

Remove the skewers from the grill and let rest 10 minutes before serving over the noodles.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
Where these as good as my usual Teriyaki Kabobs and Peanut Noodles? I didn’t think so, but the meal met with rave reviews (although that may have been the Cucumber Margaritas talking), so who am I to argue?

The thighs were indeed sweet and tangy with a good mix of savory umami and bright fruit flavors. The noodles were rich and peanutty and had a nice crunch from the veggies. I would have added a bit more garlic to the chicken and a little lime juice to lighten up the noodles,  but that’s more niggling than complaining. In the end, the trade off in taste was minor for the ease of putting this meal together.

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